It’s a great time to work in the IT Industry. Yes, we’ve been saying this for years, but 2019 is no different. With technology unemployment near record lows, median wages double the national rate, and 94,000 computer systems related jobs added over the last year, IT career opportunities are growing faster than almost every other profession.
At the same time, interest in new and innovative technologies has led to an increased demand for specialized tech skills and created shortages of skilled IT talent in the process. What does this all mean for IT professionals? There are lots of opportunities to pursue when building your ideal tech career. However, before you begin the search for your next IT role, it’s important to take a step back and consider what type of IT career you’d prefer.
Unlike other professions, contract work in the technology industry is extremely prevalent. For some professionals, this can be seen as a benefit. Yet for those who prefer more stability or predictability from their job, full-time employment might be a better option. While there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to contract versus full-time employment, there are pros and cons to both.
Are you considering leaving your current IT job for new opportunities? Check out our free IT job search resources and join us as we compare contract and full-time employment to discover their unique advantages and disadvantages.
At its most basic, contract employment implies that an individual has been hired to perform a specific job at a defined rate of pay. Typically, contract employment is limited to a set duration of time. A contract employee is not considered a permanent employee and they do not become a regular addition to the organization’s staff.
One of the biggest benefits of contract work in the IT industry is the opportunity to earn higher wages than a regular full-time tech employee. Employers don’t have to pay benefits, unemployment insurance, holiday or vacation pay to contractors, so workers are guaranteed to receive a higher paycheck since these items aren’t being deducted out. For some professionals, a larger paycheck outweighs benefits like health insurance or paid time-off.
In addition to higher wages, contractors usually work for a specified length of time that is agreed to when a contract is signed. The length of an IT contract can vary from a few months to a year or more depending on the complexity of the project and the skills required. For some IT professionals, working on a 6- or 12-month contract is preferable because it provides them the opportunity to gain experience on many different projects over the course of their career. They can learn about and work in various companies and industries giving them broader insights and knowledge. Additionally, contract projects are likely to use different technologies, platforms, and processes, allowing contractors to learn and apply new skills and continuously add new experiences to their resume.
While contract employees make a higher wage than full-time employees in the same role, contract workers are not eligible for any benefits from their employer. This can mean forgoing health insurance, 401k contributions, paid time-off, parental leave, disability benefits, and more. Although there have been changes to the Affordable Care Act, for example, health insurance coverage is still mandatory in some states and most people rely on some form of coverage in order to receive basic healthcare services. Contract employees must cover these types of costly expenses on their own.
Another disadvantage of IT contract work is a lack of connection with teammates, colleagues, and the company at large. As short-term employees, it’s common for contractors to feel separated from the rest of the organization and it can be hard to get to know coworkers if you’re only planning to be with the company a short time. While regular employees build camaraderie and networks of support, contract workers can be left feeling alone and disconnected.
Lastly, contract workers must always be searching and preparing for their next contract position. For IT workers who get overwhelmed by the job search process, this requirement can be daunting and can lead IT professionals to choose jobs that don’t match their skills or long-term career goals. Luckily, working with a staffing firm can help with this process. Staffing firms handle the job search process for their candidates, identifying opportunities that are a good fit for them, and assisting them with the application and interview process. This can help ease the burden on IT contractors and allow them to focus more on their current role.
Another option for IT professionals is regular, full-time, benefits eligible employment. This means an employee is hired by a company to work for a minimum number of hours per week at a set rate. Full-time employees earn a steady income and are provided benefits like health insurance, sick leave and retirement savings through their employer. They might also be eligible for government benefits not offered to part-time or contract workers.
In many ways, the advantages of full-time work mirror the disadvantages of contract work. First, full-time employees are benefit eligible. This means their employer is responsible for providing health insurance coverage, paid time-off, and other employment benefits and perks like professional development opportunities. For some IT employees, especially those with families or children, the security these benefits provide is very valuable.
Beyond receiving benefits, full-time employees get to know their coworkers and build relationships and networks throughout the workplace in ways that contract employees do not. These types of connections not only improve day-to-day operations and projects, they help employees feel valued and appreciated, and make them more productive and successful over the long term.
Finally, full-time IT employees have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the technology they work with. In contrast to contract employees who have to learn new technologies and platforms on each project, full-time IT workers can become experts in their tech specialty or field. This technical knowledge combined with a strong understanding of the company, make full-time tech employees a valuable to asset to many organizations.
The biggest downside to full-time employment could also be a benefit depending on your perspective. For IT pros who value the opportunity to move around to different tech jobs with different companies and learn new skills, full-time employment with the same organization for an indefinite period might feel restricting. For others, this stability is a benefit.
Similarly, if advancing your IT career is important, working within an organization might not be the best way to go. Depending on the size of the company, opportunities for internal advancement can be limited and full-time employees might not have the opportunity to develop the technical and leadership skills they need to be promoted.
In the end, the decision about what kind of IT career to pursue is up to you. Only you know what type of employment and IT opportunities align best with your career and life goals. What one tech professional might view as a disadvantage, another might see as a benefit. The good news is that, whether you choose contract or full-time employment, there are plenty of opportunities in the IT industry waiting for you.
Interested in changing careers or pursuing new IT opportunities? EdgeLink is looking for talented IT employees for BOTH contract and full-time positions. Let us help you find your next IT role!